To evaluate the effect of electro-acupuncture (EA) in infertile patients with phlegm-dampness polycystic ovary syndrome-insulin resistance (PCOS-IR).
Seventy-six PCOS-IR patients who underwnet in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer (IVF-ET) were equally assigned to two groups according to a random digital table: the EA group and the control group, with 38 cases in each group. Before undergoing IVF, the two groups were treated with EA or pseudo-acupuncture, respectively, for 3 menstrual cycles. The intervention was 25 min twice a week until the day of oocyte collection. The selected acupoints were Zhongwan (RN 12), Tianshu (ST 25), Daheng (SP 15), Daimai (GB 26), Qihai (CV 6), Guanyuan (CV 4), and bilateral points including Xuehai (SP 10), Fenglong (ST 40), Zusanli (ST 36), and Yinlingquan (SP 9). Evaluation of phlegm-dampness syndrome score and IR score were carried out before and after treatment. Additionally, the number of oocytes retrieved, transplantable embryo rate, high-quality embryo rate, clinical pregnancy rate and live birth rate were compared between the two groups. Real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis was used to monitor the mRNA expression of the insulin receptor substrate (IRS-1), phosphatidylinositiol 3-kinase (PI3K) and glucose transport factor 4 (GLUT4) in ovarian granulosa cells.
EA treatment reduced the phlegm-dampness syndrome score as well as the IR scores compared with the control group (P0.05). Moreover, the transplantable embryo rate [49.0% (284/580) vs. 41.9% (273/652)], high-quality embryo rate [36.6% (104/284) vs. 27.8% (76/273)], and live birth rate [50% (19/38) vs. 26.3% (10/38)] in the EA group were significantly higher than in the control group (P<0.05). Gene expression analyses revealed significantly elevated IRS-1, PI3K and GLUT4 mRNA in ovarian granulosa cells of the EA group compared with the control group (P<0.05).
EA may ameliorate the effects of phlegm-dampness syndrome and ovarian IR in PCOS-IR patients. Mechanistically, this effect might be through an upregulation of the IRS-1/PI3K/GLUT4 signaling pathway, which may result in improved oocyte quality and embryonic development potential. (Registration No. ChiCTR1800015453).